>> Since Cesar Rojo has taken over the development at Mondraker, the Spanish are basically overflowing with innovation. Their Summum DH bike is not only nailing it because of Fabien Barel’s World Cup win in Maribor, Slovenia – it is also popular due to its light weight and one of the best and most adjustable geometries ever offered among downhill bikes. The Zenith XR is based on the same principle. It offers some nice and special features for the Enduro segment. However, changes do not always mean progress. But at least there is a possibility for progress. We tested the Zenith on home-like Spanish territory.

The centerpiece of the aluminum frame is represented by its Zero suspension system. It features a dual-link system compressing the shock simultaneously on both sides. In comparison to other bikes of the same category but different brands, Mondraker recommends very high amounts of sag. Approximately 35% sag is recommended for the 170 mm rear travel, which matches 22 mm of stroke at the shock. Consequently, this feature not only affects the riding characteristics, but also the way the shock needs to be adjusted.

Another specialty is the ability to adjust the head angle with the aid of headset cups (from 68 degrees down to 64 degrees).

The Fox 36 FLOAT RC2 FIT and the DHX Air 5.0, both Kashima editions, offer best for superb suspension performance.

The rest of the equipment, like the in-house brand OnOff wheels and other components, are relatively ordinary. As usual, the RockShox Reverb seatpost works beautifully, and the adjustment range of the seatpost out of the frame is fine.

The compact and centered position on the bike is the first noticeable feature, which is emphasized by the geometry data of a short top tube of 575 mm. The seating and pedaling position is, despite of the shortness of the bike, very good and allows comfortable pedaling. Nevertheless, the suspension system and the chain tend to bob. Even so, this doesn’t really matter because the Zenith is not really designed for uphill, but rather performs great in downhill. Instead, it would be desirable to be able to lower the fork to obtain more handlebar pressure and a steeper head angle for climbing. A little more composure in climbs would really suit the Mondraker, especially if the head angle has been adjusted a little flatter via the headset cups. After the little edgy uphill ride, we are excited to see what the downhill ride has to offer.

The compact geometry is like an invitation to enter the game. The low-running top tube manages to convey a subjective feeling of security. Thanks to the slack head angle and the relatively long chainstays, the bike remains smooth even at high speed. Only the tires, with their badly supported middle knobs, cause a little vague and imprecise handling. But of course these are easily replaceable.

Because of the relatively linear spring rate and the high amount of sag, we completely made use of the bottom-out adjustments of the Fox DHX Air, which was quite a hassle because it’s difficult to access via the frame. This is how we obtained a reasonable ending progression with outstanding bump absorption. As a minor deficit, we would mention the missing double chain guide, which should go without saying in this kind of travel option category.

Conclusion: Despite some thoughtful features, the Zenith still troubles us with a few details. The not quite bobbing-neutral riding properties are appropriate for its field of use, but it will have to face some resentment on German trails, where efficiency is a main focus. Nevertheless the bike is definitely frisky and good fun on downhill trails.

More info: www.mondraker.com Photo: Sebas Romero Text: Robin Schmitt

Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of ENDURO, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality mountain bike journalism. Click here to learn more.

About the author

Robin Schmitt

Robin is one of the two founders of 41 Publishing, a visionary and go-getter. While he now enjoys every second on the bike – whenever his busy schedule allows – he used to race against the clock at enduro events and a few Downhill World Cups. Besides that, Robin practises kung fu and Zen meditation, plays the cello or with his dog (which actually belongs to his girlfriend), travels abroad and still reviews numerous bikes himself. Progressive ideas, new projects and major challenges – Robin loves exploring undiscovered potential and getting to the bottom of new trends.